Hundreds of Automakers Including Tesla Apply For U.S. Tariff Exemption

Hundreds of automobile companies including EV leader Tesla have asked the the U.S. Trade Representative to extend tariff exemptions for parts and materials imported from China, which are used to make or repair cars. Tesla filed three public comments on Wednesday in support of tariff exemptions for graphite, CNBC reported on Thursday.

“As a result of Tesla’s due diligence process for suppliers of artificial graphite, globally and in the United States, Tesla has concluded that no company in the United States is currently capable of producing artificial graphite to the required specifications and capacity needed for Tesla’s production,” the firm wrote. Tesla also said that only the Chinese mainland could provide the quantity of graphite it needs in flake or powder form to manufacture its batteries in the U.S.

SK Innovation, a Korean battery company, also supported the extension of tariff reductions on graphite through its U.S. subsidiary SK Battery America. SK Innovation said that if the tariff relief is restored, it will be able to produce high-quality EV parts for the U.S. at competitive prices, while creating full-time jobs that support American families.

According to public information, graphite can be used to manufacture anode components of automobile lithium-ion batteries. On average, a hybrid car needs about 22 pounds of graphite, while a pure electric car needs about 220 pounds.

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Graphite is generally divided into artificial and natural graphite. Because of the large capacity and low price of artificial graphite, most power batteries and some high-end consumer batteries adopt artificial graphite to produce anode materials.

According to data from AskCI Consulting, leading enterprises in the Chinese artificial graphite industry include Beiterui, Shanghai Putailai and Ningbo Shanshan. Among them, Beiterui was recognized by Japanese conglomerate company Panasonic in 2017 and entered Tesla’s supply chain, because Panasonic is one of Tesla’s major battery suppliers.